EU Leaders Reach Deal to Tackle Debt Crisis

Banks agreed this morning to take half of what they are owed by Greece as part of a deal brokered by European leaders to solve the continent’s debt crisis and prevent it from igniting a new global financial meltdown. The strategy that emerged after 10 hours of negotiations focused on three key points: 1) Significant reduction in Greece’s debts; 2) Shoring up the continent’s banks, partly so they can sustain the deeper losses on Greek bonds; 3) Reinforcement of a European bailout fund so it can serve as a $1.39 trillion firewall to prevent larger economies like Italy and Spain from being dragged into the crisis.

The deal will reduce Greece’s debt to 120% of its GDP in 2020. Under current conditions, it would have grown to 180%. That will require banks to take on 50% losses on their Greek bond holdings. The Eurozone and International Monetary Fund— which have both been propping the country up with loans since May of 2010 — will give the country another —$140 billion. World markets surged Thursday at the news..

Obama Uses Executive Powers to Get Past Congress

During a three-day Western trip that ended Wednesday, Obama announced initiatives that could help 1.6 million college students repay their federal loans, 1 million homeowners meet their mortgage payments, and 8,000 veterans find jobs. The Democratic president did this with nary a negotiation with congressional Republicans. Like many of his predecessors in the White House, he got past Congress the old-fashioned way: He spurned it. On all three initiatives, Obama used his executive authority rather than seeking legislation. That limited the scope of his actions, but it enabled him to blow by his Republican critics. Unlike acts of Congress, executive actions cannot appropriate money. And they can be wiped off the books by courts, Congress or the next president. President Obama signed two more executive memorandums Friday, saying they will help employment at a time when congressional Republicans are blocking his $447 billion jobs bill.

  • It’s a dangerous game to upset the balance of powers demanded by our Constitution

Court rejects Cape Wind’s Offshore Wind Turbines

A federal appeals court on Friday rejected the Federal Aviation Administration’s ruling that the Cape Wind project’s turbines present “no hazard” to aviation, overturning a vital clearance for the nation’s first offshore wind farm in Nantucket Sound. A decision Friday from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia said the FAA didn’t adequately determine whether the planned 130 turbines, each 440 feet tall, would pose a danger to pilots flying by visual flight rules. The court ordered the “no hazard” determinations vacated and remanded back to the FAA. The court also found that an FAA determination that the project posed aviation risks would likely lead the U.S. Interior Department to revoke or modify the lease granted Cape Wind — the first granted to a U.S. offshore wind project. The decision signals further delays for the $2.6 billion project, which has been under review for about a decade and which has struggled to find financing.

Occupy London Protesters Face Eviction, Arrests in Tenn.

Occupy London protesters who are camped out in front of the historic St. Paul’s Cathedral are facing eviction by legal action. St. Paul’s and the City of London Corp. are seeking separate High Court injunctions to clear out the more than 200 tents. Protesters first set up shop outside of the tourist site and house of worship two weeks ago. The City of London said on its website: “Of course, we fully support the right of people to express their views through peaceful demonstration, but no city can be a campsite.” The protesters initially attempted to set up at the London Stock Exchange, but police cordoned off that area. The protesters say they will oppose any attempt to remove the tents.

Police have begun arresting Wall Street protesters in Nashville who defied a new curfew a day after they were forced off the Tennessee Capitol grounds because new restrictions had been set. Several dozen people remained on the grounds after the new curfew passed Friday at 10 p.m. Arrests began just before midnight. About 26 people were arrested. Protesters remained at the scene and vowed to return Saturday. Meanwhile, Wall Street protesters around the country who are vowing to stand their ground against the police and are also digging in against a different kind of adversary: cold weather. With the temperature dropping, they are stockpiling donated coats, blankets and scarves, trying to secure cots and military-grade tents, and getting survival tips from the homeless people who have joined their encampments.

Fights are erupting among Occupy Wall Street protesters in New York City, so much so that one corner of Zuccotti Park has emerged where protesters say they won’t go for fear of their safety, the New York Daily News reported. Police officers also have been warned of “dangerous instruments” being concealed in cardboard tubing. “There is a lot of infighting in the park,” a police source told the news organization.

  • These protests are entering the next phase where the unstable people attracted to the encampments turn violent against the police and each other.

Zombie Popularity Another Symptom of Deep Social Malaise

We are in the midst of a zombie-craze. Zombies have reached never-before seen heights of popularity, appearing widely not only in film but also in comic books, graphic novels, literature, video games. Major cities across North America have become home to organized zombie walks where sometimes hundreds of people dress as the risen dead and wander en masse creating gruesome flash mobs, References to zombie banks, zombie capitalism, zombie economy and all sorts of zombie business have ‘gone viral.’ A “zombie bank” is as “a bank or financial institution with negative net worth.” In “Zombie Economics: A Guide to Personal Finance,” authors Lisa Desjardins and Rick Emerson write that a “zombie economy” is “any financial situation that puts your stability and future in jeopardy.” The concept of zombies comes from Haitian folklore and voodoo mythology and has been closely associated with slavery, as Haiti was a hub for the slave trade.

  • As the world descends into economic chaos and moral decay, satanic forces are guiding confused, frustrated people down demonic pathways. Not just zombies, but current music and shows have become quite demonic, while even the sports world seeks to get their ‘mojo’ which actually means a voodoo fetish.

Feds Order YouTube To Remove Videos Containing “Government Criticism”

The number of takedown orders received by Google from authorities based in the United States rose dramatically over the past year, with demands to remove information, including videos containing “government criticism,” increasing by 70 per cent. U.S. authorities also called for the removal of 113 videos from YouTube, including several documenting alleged police brutality which Google refused to take down. The figures are revealed in Google’s newly released Transparency Report. The number of “Items requested to be removed” by US authorities was almost seven-fold the number requested to be removed by Chinese authorities, a country much maligned for its Internet censorship policies.

Military Homosexuals Suing for Marriage Rights

A group of married “gay” current and former military personnel has sued the federal government, seeking equal recognition, benefits and the same support as married heterosexual couples. The lawsuit filed Thursday in federal court in Boston says the government’s Defense of Marriage Act violates their constitutional rights and asks the military to recognize their marriages. The suit was filed by the Servicemembers Legal Defense Network. Executive director Aubrey Sarvis says homosexual service members deserve the same protections as heterosexual couples because they make the same sacrifices. Opponents of President Obama’s decision to overturn “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy warned that such a lawsuit would be coming once that restriction was removed. The Obama administration has already stated publicly that it will not enforce the the Defense of Marriage Act that restricts marriage to a man and a woman.

  • What seems ‘reasonable’ on the surface is but another symptom of the breakdown, morally and genetically, of God’s intended social order

Christian Demoted for Posting Gay Marriage Stance on Facebook

Adrian Smith, a housing manager in Manchester, England, got a pay cut and demotion after sharing his beliefs against gay marriage in a post on his personal Facebook page, the Christian Post reports. Some of Smith’s coworkers who were his Facebook friends complained to the Trafford Housing Trust after Smith wrote that “marriage is for men and women” and that gay marriage was “an equality too far.” Following a disciplinary hearing, he was demoted from his managerial position and his salary was cut by 40 percent. He was also forced to remove his comments, and he is now suing the company, saying his free speech rights were violated and that the punishment was inappropriate.

Family Films Still Most Bankable

For all the castigating they take, family films — even live-action movies not propelled by computer-generated effects and toy tie-ins — remain the industry’s most bankable pictures. That’s more than most genres can claim this year. Superheroes fizzled, 3-D faded and many sequels failed to match their predecessors, commercially or critically. “It’s the only genre that’s delivering any kind of a profit margin, which is why we’re going to be seeing so many of them,” says Jeff Bock of the industry tracking firm Exhibitor Relations. Movies safe for Grandma and the grandkids will arrive undeterred this holiday season. “Family time is clearly prime time at the cineplex this time of year. It’s been the one thing in the marketplace that’s still appealing to a wide denominator,” says film critic Anne Thompson.

Jesus’ Name Ruled Unconstitutional

A recent U.S. circuit court decision that states even “a solitary reference to Jesus Christ” in invocations before the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners’ meetings could do “violence to the pluralistic and inclusive values that are a defining feature of American public life.” Furthermore, wrote Judge James Harvie Wilkinson III in the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals majority opinion, legislative invocations offered in Jesus’ name are inherently “sectarian” and thus should be censored lest they make some attendees feel “uncomfortable, unwelcome and unwilling to participate in … public affairs.” But the board of county commissioners in North Carolina disagrees, and with the help of the Alliance Defense Fund is asking the Supreme Court to trump Wilkinson’s ruling. “America’s founders opened public meetings with prayer; this county simply wants to allow its citizens to do the same,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Cortman in a statement.

Public School Bible Classes Declining

In 2006, Georgia became the first state to allow Bible education classes in public schools, after much debate over the sticky issue of separation of church and state. Now the classes are dwindling for a far more tangible reason: money. Superintendents say interest has waned in the once-controversial classes and schools don’t have the money to pay for courses with only a few students enrolled. What’s more, budget cuts mean it now takes more students to fill up a class than ever before – some classes need more than 25 enrolled before they are considered affordable. Since Georgia’s law passed five years ago, four states – Texas, Tennessee, South Carolina and Oklahoma – have adopted similar measures. The economy is taking a toll on how many schools consider offering Bible classes because it’s difficult to find qualified teachers and set aside the funding for the textbook and materials.

Fungus Fingered as Bat Killer

Confirming suspicions, federal and academic biologists concluded Wednesday that a deadly white fungus is killing bats across North America. More than one million bats have been killed by “White Nose Syndrome” (WNS), tied to the fungus. The fungus, Geomyces destructans, kills bats exposed in lab conditions and directly infects bats exposed to their infected brethren, reports the Nature journal study team. “Fungal pathogens have the unique capacity to drive host populations to extinction because of their ability to survive in host-free environments. Given the high mortality rate and speed at which WNS has spread, the disease has the potential to decimate North American bat populations and cause species extinction. With the causative agent now conclusively identified through fulfillment of Koch’s postulates, future research efforts can focus on mitigating the effects of WNS before hibernating bat populations suffer losses beyond the point of recovery,” says the study.

Supercommittee GOP, Democrats Swap Offers

Republicans on Congress’ deficit-reduction supercommittee outlined a plan Wednesday that includes spending cuts but none of the increases in tax revenue sought by Democrats, completing an initial exchange of offers that left the two sides far apart despite weeks of secret talks. The Republican offer calls for somewhat more than $2 trillion in deficit savings over a decade, according to officials in both parties. Less than half of that amount would come from increases in items such as Medicare premiums. Spending cuts include about $500 billion from Medicare over a decade and another $185 billion from Medicaid. By contrast, Democrats want $1.3 trillion in higher tax revenue, a similar amount in spending cuts and enough other savings elsewhere in the budget to finance a $450 billion jobs bill along the lines that President Barack Obama is recommending. The panel of six Republicans and six Democrats has until Nov. 23 to recommend deficit savings of $1.2 trillion.

Economic News

The ever-escalating national debt will soon hit and then surpass the size of the entire U.S. economy — an ignominious distinction previously achieved by the likes of Japan, Italy and Greece. The gross national debt, which is what the federal government owes both to outside creditors and its own trust funds (notably Social Security), will reach 100% of the economy in another month or two – a total of $15.2 billion. It will put the U.S. closer to rarified territory — countries that owe more than they produce in a year. Japan is at the head of the class with a 220% debt-to-GDP ratio. Italy, being watched closely now for signs that the European debt crisis based in Greece could be spreading, is around 120%.Even the troubled 17-nation Eurozone is better off than the U.S. in this regard, with a ratio under 90%.

The total of U.S. state debt, including pension liabilities, could surpass $4 trillion, with California owing the most and Vermont owing the least, a new analysis says. The nonprofit State Budget Solutions combined states’ major debt and future liabilities, primarily for pensions and employee healthcare, unemployment insurance loans, outstanding bonds and projected fiscal 2011 budget gaps. The report said the deficit calculations that states make “do not offer a full picture of the states’ liabilities and can rely on budget gimmicks and accounting games to hide the extent of the deficit.”

Americans spent in September at three times the pace of the previous month, even though incomes barely budged. They financed their spending by saving at the lowest level since the start of the Great Recession. Consumer spending rose 0.6% last month. The gain was driven by a big rise in purchases of durable goods, such as autos. Consumers earned only 0.1% more, and adjusting for inflation, after-tax incomes fell 0.1% last month — the third straight monthly decline.

The Labor Department says weekly applications for unemployment benefits declined 2,000 to a seasonally adjusted 402,000. That’s the fourth drop in six weeks. Despite the recent declines, applications are stuck above 400,000, where they have been for all but two weeks since March. Applications need to fall consistently below 375,000 to signal sustainable job growth.

The terrible economy hasn’t pummeled everyone. Exxon Mobil rode higher oil and natural gas prices to a third-quarter profit of $10.3 billion — a surge of 41% from a year earlier. Oil industry competitors also saw similar gains from the higher prices.

  • The ‘Occupy’ protesters have one thing right – greed (corporate or otherwise) is a major economic problem that is yet another sign of the ongoing end-time rollout. (along with materialism and self-centeredness).

Middle East

An American request for Israel to initiate a new freeze on building in Jewish communities in the West Bank in order to kick-start negotiations with the Palestinian Authority was denied by Israeli officials on Thursday. The request was submitted by US Ambassador Dan Shapiro to Interior Minister Eli Yishai, who replied that no Israeli government had given in to the request to freeze settlements in the past, and that there was no reason for the current government to do so now.

A U.S.-Israeli citizen arrested in Egypt as a suspected spy was freed on Thursday after more than four months in jail, under a prisoner swap deal that has eased friction between the two countries. Egypt traded the U.S.-born Grapel for 25 Egyptians, most of them smugglers, held in Israeli jails. Grapel’s release helped to ease fears that relations would sour after Egypt’s longtime president, Hosni Mubarak, was ousted in February.

Libya

Fighters and residents in this battle-scarred city celebrated victory over Moammar Gadhafi’s regime with parade of tanks and anti-aircraft guns Friday, as NATO announced that it would end its air campaign over Libya after the weekend. The uprising against Gadhafi had erupted in February and quickly escalated into a civil war that ended last week with Gadhafi’s capture and death under mysterious circumstances. Still, the new Libya faces a host of problems, including huge numbers of weapons in the hands of civilians and uncertainty about the transition to democracy. The image of the former rebels has also suffered amid allegations that they have mistreated prisoners and that those who captured Gadhafi killed him in custody.

Afghanistan

Despite improvements to security in Afghanistan, militants operating from havens in Pakistan and chronic problems with the Kabul government pose significant risks to a “durable, stable Afghanistan,” according to a Pentagon progress report released Friday. More than a decade since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and the start of the Afghan war, the U.S. and its allies have reversed violent trends in much of the country, and the transition to Afghans taking charge of security has begun in seven key areas, including major cities such as Kabul and Herat. However, cross-border attacks have increased in recent months because of insurgents’ havens in Pakistan and the support they received from within its borders. NATO said 13 service members have been killed in a suicide car bombing in Kabul on Saturday. The suicide bomber rammed a van packed with explosives into a NATO convoy. Afghan officials said that four Afghans, including a policeman, were also killed.

Pakistan

U.S. drones fired six missiles at a vehicle in Pakistan’s rugged tribal region Thursday, killing five militants, including a close ally to one of the area’s top commanders. The attack in the South Waziristan tribal area killed Khan Mohammed, also known as Sathai, deputy leader of a group of militants led by Maulvi Nazir and also the commander’s cousin. The strike also killed Nazir’s younger brother, Hazrat Omar. Nazir is one of the most powerful militant commanders in the tribal region and is accused of working with the Taliban and al-Qaida to stage attacks against foreign troops in neighboring Afghanistan. The U.S. has criticized Pakistan for failing to crack down on militants staging attacks in Afghanistan and has stepped up drone attacks in the tribal region to combat them.

Yemen

A car bomb killed the head of the anti-terror force in Yemen’s restive southern Abyan province Friday. Three others, including two children, were wounded in the blast that killed Ali al-Haddi near the coastal city of Aden. The bomb was planted in al-Haddi’s car. Security has broken down across Yemen during the nine-month popular uprising against autocratic President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has ruled the country for more than 30 years. Demonstrations raged around the country on Friday.

Syria

Syrian troops shelled a restive district on Saturday and conducted sweeping raids, one day after security forces killed about 40 people in one of the deadliest crackdowns in months in the country’s uprising. Shells slammed into the Baba Amr district of Homs. Raids and arrests also were reported around the eastern city of Deir el-Zour. There were many casualties, but the number was not immediately clear. Syrian security forces opened fire Friday on protesters and hunted them down in house-to-house raids, killing about 30 people. The popular revolt against Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime has proved remarkably resilient over the past seven months, with protests erupting every week despite the near-certainty the government will respond with bullets and tear gas. The U.N. estimates the regime crackdown on the protests has killed 3,000 people since March.

Turkey

An explosion believed to have been caused by a suicide bomber killed one person and wounded 10 others in southeast Turkey on Saturday. The explosion occurred in the center of the mainly-Kurdish city of Bingol. The blast was near the local branch of the ruling party. Kurdish rebels who are fighting for autonomy, have carried out many such suicide bombings in the past. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people since 1984.

Serbia

Serbian police arrested 15 people in raids on suspected radical Islamists on Saturday after a lone gunman opened fire with an assault rifle on the U.S. embassy in neighboring Bosnia. Friday’s broad daylight attack in the Bosnian capital paralyzed central Sarajevo and had shopkeepers scrambling for cover as the gunman paced up and down firing on the embassy before a police sharpshooter wounded him and he was arrested. One police officer was also wounded in the attack.

Nigeria

Nigerian soldiers summoned to the city of Bauchi to stop fights between Muslim and Christian youths last week shot and killed a Christian mother of five, Compass Direct News reports. When violence broke out at a high school soccer match, soldiers were called in to restore the peace, but Muslim soldiers soon joined with Muslim students from the school and attacked Christians’ homes as the fighting spread to other parts of the city. Three soldiers chased Charity Augustine Agbo into her house and shot her twice in the chest; she later died at a hospital.

Earthquakes

An earthquake has struck about 140 miles east of the capital of Fiji. There are no immediate reports of damage or injuries. The U.S. Geological Survey says the magnitude-6.0 quake struck Thursday at a depth of 380 miles. The region lies on the “Ring of Fire” — an arc of earthquake and volcanic zones that stretches around the Pacific Rim. About 90% of the world’s quakes occur in the region.

Rain and snow on Thursday compounded difficulties for thousands rendered homeless in the powerful earthquake that hit eastern Turkey, and the government said the death toll has gone up to 523. The prime minister’s center for crisis and emergency management said 1,650 people were injured and 185 were rescued from the rubble. Meanwhile, a moderate earthquake, measuring 5.4 hit the neighboring province of Hakkari, sending people rushing out of buildings in fear and panic. No injuries were immediately reported in that temblor, which was centered some 90 miles south of the epicenter of Sunday’s devastating quake.

A mild earthquake measuring 3.2 struck Chino Valley, Arizona Wednesday, causing some shaking of homes but no reported damages or injuries. It was the largest quake in the area since a 5.0 trembler in 1976.

Weather

The main river coursing through Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, swelled to record highs Friday, briefly flooding riverside buildings and an ornate royal complex at high tide amid fears that flood defenses could break and swamp the heart of the city. But the higher than normal tides in the Gulf of Thailand, expected to peak Saturday, are obstructing the flood runoff from the north, and there are fears that the overflows could swamp parts of downtown. The government also is worried major barriers and dikes could break. Seven of Bangkok’s 50 districts — all in the northern outskirts — are heavily flooded, and residents have fled aboard bamboo rafts and army trucks and by wading in waist-deep water.

Tropical Storm Rina battered Mexico’s Caribbean coast and the island of Cozumel with winds and rain Friday, and the navy forcibly evacuated some residents who refused to leave a low-lying island in the path of the storm. Rina was a far cry from the Category 3 hurricane that some had feared would hit the resort-studded region and many tourists abandoned Cancun and the Riviera Maya ahead of its arrival. The storm was weakening further early Friday, with maximum sustained winds of near 45 mph, down from 110 mph at its peak. Playa de Carmen, a resort town across from Cozumel, was left without electricity and streets were largely empty as Rina swept along the coast.

A cold-weather system and dump anywhere from a dusting to more than 10 inches of snow Saturday from the Mid-Atlantic to parts of New England. The National Weather Service, as of early Friday afternoon, had posted winter storm watches and warnings all the way from southwestern Virginia to northern Maine. The autumn snowstorm threatened to wreak havoc with fall color tourism.

Haiti is the nation most at risk from rising sea levels, floods and other impacts of climate change, according to a new global survey from the U.K. risk analysis firm Maplecroft. Thirty countries are listed as being at ‘extreme risk,’ with the top 10 comprising of Haiti, Bangladesh, Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe, Madagascar, Cambodia, Mozambique, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Malawi and the Philippines. Iceland is the country which is forecast to suffer the least, the survey reports. The other best-performing countries in the survey are almost exclusively in Northern Europe, with Finland, Ireland, Sweden and Norway all in the top ten. The U.S. is categorized as low risk, although some coastal regions, including Florida, Louisiana, Georgia, North and South Carolina were rated as ‘high risk.

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